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Saturday, July 31, 2010

cheese head

Some long time friends of mine moved to Madison abut a year ago. A perfect stop on the way to Alaska to see their new home and catch up. Another friend from back in VA happened also to be visiting this weekend, and yet another in the group of our old pals is in town for work so it's a big ol' reunion of fun. We all went to The Old Fashioned in Capital Square for lunch yesterday. The place was packed and staff was friendly. This is where we ordered fried cheese curds for an app. (Yeah, I know. I have blown any kind of balance in my diet during my stay in Wisconsin. Talk about an all-out cheese fest. I'm glad I can still strap on my running shoes and pound the pavement from anywhere for free.) Here's my sandwich:

Grilled cheese delight at The Old Fashioned

Grilled cheese with cheddar, swiss, hickory smoked red peppers, cukes and tomatoes. This was one of the best fancy grilled cheese sandwiches I have ever had. The fresh local veggies stuffed in there put it in that category. It's such a spoil to have fresh produce included in what you order in a restaurant. The melty cheese and butter help too of course. As if I wasn't full enough after that sammy, I had to grab one of their enormous chocolate chip cookies to go. I couldn't resist! They had plates and plates of these coming out fresh all over the bar area on plates for self-serve. When the bartender said; "That's one American dollar please!- and help yourself!" I wanted to kiss him. It was delicious. The chocolate chips were still warm and melty as we gobbled it up.

Chocolate chip cookies at The Old Fashioned

I highly recommend this spot if you're up for lunch out when you visit Madison. The prices are more than reasonable and every last thing coming out of the kitchen looked delicious. The kind of lunch stuffing that you need a nap after. Good food, full belly and catching up with old friends sure makes for a spectacular Friday afternoon!

to market to market

I'm off to the biggest farmer's market in the country around Madison's Capital Square. What a green and gorgeous place this is. There are more parks and bike paths in this midwest city than you can imagine. There's certainly no excuse not to get out and be active here. Being from VT I love it. It feels like a slice of home in the summertime with farms abound, miles and miles of corn fields and kids playing outside with grass stained knees.

Off to scour the market. I've got some photos of Wisconsin characters I will upload and share later...

Friday, July 30, 2010

yippee, skippy, wahoo!

Imagine my surprise to get this email from my first perfect stranger/Paypal donation since being on the road:

Hi Diane, I noticed you and the BLR-mobile outside the coffee cafe in downtown Cleveland on Monday. Not having known your story, I looked up Blue Lollipop Road when I returned to my desk a little later. I would have liked to introduce myself, but by then you had hit the highway (apparently to Chicago - lucky you!). Some other day, perhaps. In any event, I'm happy to send some gas money to help your adventure farther along - Good Luck! Bill P.


Thank you so much Bill! This means a lot to me and will totally help with the many miles ahead. I hope you will stay in touch and keep following my journey. Your gas donation timing tonight was the perfect boost I needed after I found myself stressing while looking again at maps and distance I still have to go.

Alaska or bust! YEAH!

lets get ready to rumbaaaaaaaallll!!!

Hello Madison Wisconsin!


Even though I was excited about my arrival here and seeing old friends, I ended up sitting at their kitchen table last night looking at maps and mileage to Alaska again feeling like someone just kicked me in the gut and told me there was no such thing as Santa Claus. I still have 2,900 miles and 75 hours driving from here to get to Alaska. Holyfegginsh*t.

Being the last U.S state I will be in before hitting up Canada, The Wisconsin state motto of "Forward" is just what I needed to read this morning after staring blankly at my computer screen last night and the sleepless night that followed. Seeing/knowing and actually doing are oh so different. If I've never had this lesson before- oh am I getting one now. I can't quit. I won't quit, but I will run out of money either before I get there or as soon as I cross the state line. This is going to make for some crazy good stories. I've planned and thought and contacted, but as we all know in life- 90% of "plans" usually get thrown out the window. This last HUGE leg of my trip is likely going to come with me throwing an eff-bomb or 50, some tears, exhaustion, confusion, doubt, loneliness, frustration and all those other words and things that happen when we attempt to reach a goal. (But the wahoo! parts too of course.) I can't lie, I'm freaking out a little. Ok maybe a lot- but I'll be damned if my happy ass isn't standing on the Frontier State line by my 32nd birthday.

Here's to screw it, just do it and owning all the rewards and consequences along the way. (Am I some kinds of bad-ass? Probably not, but I'm going to try to be anyway.)

"Forward" it is.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

cool cleveland

The other day I beat feet from Upstate, NY to Chicago. It was a perfect sunny day like a lot have been on my trip so far and I zipped along with no problems at all. I stopped off in Cleveland for a couple hours to wander the city. I have to say I was surprised at how great the vibe was. The city was bustling and downtown is filled with stadiums, parks, restaurants and more. Talk about the place for a sports lover! The Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame is right in the city center too. I had to get a quick shot of the peacock guitar (I wonder why:):

Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame

I thought this giant FREE stamp was cool at Willard Park nearby too:

Willard Park- Cleveland

I'm not sure what this area was with sidewalk cafe's and people milling around, but it looked like it'd be the hopping place on a weekend night or after catching a game so I snapped a photo as I drove by. (I'm getting good at that when I can't find parking!):

Downtown Cleveland

I can't remember who introduced me to Cool Cleveland a while back, or if I have written about this site before- but here it is (maybe again.) I emailed back and forth with the guy that started the site about a year or so ago after someone sent me the link. This is the place to find out what's happening in this great Ohio city. Apparently the site started by accident like a lot of these community events sites; Someone sends emails to friends about what's going on around town/puts up blog posts about social events, people start following and boom- all access entertainment site is born. It's an excellent resource for finding something fun to do if you live or are visiting there.

This time around my visit wasn't very long, but I can say I think It'd be a blast to go back for a long weekend and take advantage of the variety of places to play in the city of Progress and Prosperity. I'll be back Cleveland!

laugh a little, smile a little

I love it when friends and followers send me links to cool stuff I can post about here. My friend Julie sent me a link to The Levity Project this week. Watch this video when you're having a bad day and see if it doesn't make you feel better. Not all of life is butterflies and rainbows, but boy does it feel good to choose to be as happy as possible and share a laugh with a stranger.

Thanks Julie!

paying the strong mojo forward

A young woman named Crystal called me this morning. Crystal used to work for me 5 years ago. We've kept in touch over the years and seen each other a few times. She's the sweetest, smartest, petite little hard-worker I could've ever had as an employee. She came from a very humble country upbringing and has made great things happen for herself. It's been fun for me to watch her grow up (My, I sound like an old lady.) We hadn't spoken on the phone in months so I was happily surprised by her voice on the phone; "Di! I just got out of a final job interview and I used you as a reference! It went great!" I asked her some details about the job and we chatted for a few minutes about other life stuff catching up. She then went back to talking about the interview:

"So the lady that interviewed me asked me who my favorite manager from all my jobs was and I told her you! Remember that time after you hired me, you sat me down after a couple weeks to talk? You told me that you thought I was a perfect fit and a hard worker, but that I needed to try to put myself out there more, have more confidence in myself and speak up/not be so shy. At the end of our talk I told you thank you and I will try. Then I tried and became awesome!" (The end line was delivered with Crystals adorable giggle. You've gotta love that closing line of "I became awesome!" Too cute...)

I didn't tell Crystal that I don't remember that conversation but it doesn't matter. All that matters is that she wants to excitedly call me to share news of a new job. She knows that I will always care and be excited for her. The timing of the call from Crystal couldn't be more perfect after my post about strong mojo and Traci yesterday. It's a perfect example why if any of us are ever in the position to mentor young people, it's a huge honor. If we take the gifts we're given that help us to "become awesome" we then have the responsibility to pay them forward to the next generation. Traci helped me learn confidence, I passed it to Crystal, and now she's going to be working with high school kids in Philly supporting them to do community service work. Someday 10 years down the road she will get a call from a young woman she cared enough about to pay attention to, and that person will excitedly tell her about a fabulous job they just got because she had the confidence to go for thanks to Crystal.

Full circle. I absolutely love it.

This day helps me to remember even the tiniest things don't go unnoticed. Thanks Crystal. You just made my week. Keep being your awesome self and I can't wait for the next phone call.

Snail mail address

I've had a few people ask how I can get snail mail when I'm on the road. I have posted about this before and it's also in my "About" page above, but here it is again:

7173 Brooking Way
Mechanicsville, VA 23111

I have someone managing my mail during my travels so nothing will be lost. Anything that's not junk mail will be passed onto me at different drop points on my trip.

Happy snail mailing!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

our favorite coach

First part of this trip was east coast, big city, people I know and of staying in comfy apartments, houses, cottages. With that came "fancy" travel of showers everyday, "no- I am paying for dinner and drinks, this is my donation to your trip!", time with people I love and good conversation filled with encouragement, advice, and brainstorming on possibilities of where to move after Alaska and how to reach my next goals in life. It's been much needed, much fun, and exactly what I needed for a push for the next phase of my trip:

Back to my unsalted peanuts, apples and granola instead of steak, pasta and home-cooked meals. Showers will be sporadic, sleeping in the car, or not at all for a day or two is in my near future, along with lots of time with strangers instead of people I know, and only and sights of mountains, valleys and much fewer humans instead of the thousands and skyscrapers I've just been around. The no-mans land and less-populated space I'm going into will be the perfect place for me to ring in my 32nd birthday, reflect on the past 16 years of my life, and think of what I want the next 16 to be. This leads me to my story of Traci and why I went to NYC before leaving the east coast:

When I was in NYC, I met and spent time with my old soccer coach Traci who I hadn't seen since my friends funerals in 1994. There was no real reason we had fallen out of touch, or not seen each other in all those years. Lives move in different directions and time flies. Sometimes when you go through a horrible tragedy with someone, you almost don't know how to face it/them until years later either. That and it feels impossible to understand why terrible things happen, what it will mean to you, or what kind of impact it will have on your life until long after the instance. (At least this is my experience.) I found Traci last year and was ready to email her out of the blue. When she returned my email signing off 16 years later with; "Much love and strong mojo" I knew in an instant that 8/18/1994 had indeed changed her life forever as it did mine. Before every game so many years ago, our coach Traci, all my teammates and I would scream "STRONG MOJO!" in the circle before games started. It was our thing, our motto, how we all were together as powerful young women. Traci had taught us that strong mojo was team work, ambition, being who and what we wanted, enjoying our time together and appreciating life. It was about being proud, honest, confident and having integrity.

My day in NY with Traci was a flood of emotions. (For the both of us.) I've been open and free on talking about my deceased friends in hopes to share their spirit and continue their legacy. This is so important to me. As much as words and stories have and will continue to roll out of me, it's still difficult to constantly revisit the way my heart snapped in half after getting that phone call at 3:56am and hearing the words "They are gone." (Now I am officially crying in a busy coffee shop as I type this. Sheesh!) Spending time with Traci catching up on 16 years, meeting her amazing and adorable little family, learning about her life and sharing about mine, was exactly the therapy, time, and strong mojo I needed for this trip. 3 weeks from today as I take the death anniversary day to think about 16 years without our friends, Traci and the rest of the MAU soccer girls will be doing the same wherever they are. Every August 18th will be the same for all of us for the rest of our lives.

So to the stranger Steve Hampton that I don't know who left comments accusing that I was a fraud and that I'm on some gluttonous partying trip, you have got to be kidding me. You claim to be a follower? Really? Have you read over 600 posts and 2 years of my work here? Did you just read the first part of this blog post? Have you read other hundreds of post inclusive of personal information about me, my family, and my life I have written in an attempt to learn about myself, try to be a better human and potentially inspire others to live their own truths and be proud of themselves with all good and bad parts and issues we all have? Could you consider that even though I am wide open and probably seem careless and free about so much of life, that it's still difficult for me to constantly air the dirtiest of my laundry? Do you think I'd make up stories about my dead best friends to get cross-country wasted and get strangers to finance a cool fun road trip? I understand that putting my life on the world wide web opens all doors for judgement. That's to be expected. I felt hurt and pissed off thinking about your comments initially. Those feelings faded fast after thinking of the Traci's of the world who love and really know me. Because of the people who love me, I take your negative hateful comments not in a negative way but as a lesson. Sometimes people will judge, and not everyone will like me. That's Ok. I know who I am, I like who I am, and enough people out there know what this trip is about and what Blue Lollipop Road stands for. That's all I need. I'd encourage you to find your Traci, your Maria and Brandy, something or someone that means everything to you. Share those things with others in a positive way. Find things that make you happy. I promise it will make you feel so much better than being judgemental and jealous of me.

Dear Traci~

Thank you for our time in NY, and time all those years ago. Thank you for teaching me strong mojo. Your gifts have given me love, support and confidence all these years, I'm able to take negativity and criticism like comments from a reader here with a grain of salt. I keep believing in myself because of people like you. Thank you for loving all of us like you did and still do. We love you too. You will always be our favorite coach, our big sister, our mentor and our hero. I feel proud to be in the mix of all the young people you continue to positively influence. I look forward to seeing you soon and never want to wait 16 years again!

Much love and strong mojo always-
Diane :)

today is national milk chocolate day!

How is it possible that I never knew there was one until today? How is it possible that there even is a National Milk Chocolate Day?

This reminds me to thank everyone again who has gifted me Nutella for my trip. I have a Costco-sized jar in my car now from my last stop. I think I need to start talking about how much I love apples and porches, then maybe that's what people would gift me and I'd eat more fruit and have fast fancy cars to drive...ha!

Nah- I'll take the Nutella.

I'm dedicating todays morning post to my cutie patootie small fry pal Libbie. She is the daughter of my friend. Before I left VA we had a couple ice cream dates. Apparently she has been asking "When is Diane coming back so we can go get ice cream?" Talk about my kind of buddy! Here is a photo of her at one of my favorite places for a sweet treat called Bev's. Don't you just want to squeeze this adorable this face?


If you are a chocolate lover out there, I'd love to post a great photo of yours like this if you'd like to send one to me. If you have a recipe for something chocolate-y you'd like to share, send that, or maybe share a chocolate spot somewhere I can check out in my travels? I'll take it all and keep posting about the de-lish spots I find too.

Happy chocolate feasting!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

making a push for my, well...

"friends" Ian and Sean. I haven't met them yet, but we'll just call them friends anyway! They have 24 days left to raise the final funds they need to finish up the One Week Job Documentary.

Me? I have about the same amount of time until I have no pennies left. It'll really be a bummer if lack of funds made me give up my chocolate habit. I'm working on a potential job at a bait shop in Seward, AK that I'll be able to work during the 2010 Salmon Derby 8/14-8/22. Now how fun would it be to make a few bucks working during that event?

Go One Week Job fundraising! Go bait shop job!

dear mother nature; any way we could negotiate on some northern weather issues?

I't makes me happy that I have friends and family in so many great places that I get to spend time and stay with. I'm now sitting on a porch swing sipping coffee at my friends house in Chicago after my morning run along the lake with the city skyline in perfect view. Absolutely love it here. I've visited quite a bit in the few years she's lived here in the Windy City. Chicago has been my favorite city in the U.S since my first visit back in 2001. If it weren't so cold here, I'd have moved here in a heartbeat then. I'm beginning to think I'm going to have to buck up, buy some wintery clothes and get my shovel ready. Automatically eliminating the Chicago's NY's, Boston's etc. of the country based on snow and frigid temperatures has been Ok for me this far, but I'm missing out on living in some killer places. So what to do when you really hate the cold? I mean really hate it.

As I trek along to reach this goal of mine, share time with people I love, and scope out my next potential stopping point to reside, I try not to think about how crabby I'd be with 3 feet of snow somewhere in January. Instead I daydream of of the vibrance and energy of a new city, the new food I'll get to try , the new friends and community of people I'll make, the work I'll do and the next new phase of life. We'll see if this works. I know my little sis, among many of you are reading this right now are laughing at me knowing that I'll be cussing at the sign of temperatures below 50. (You're right. I will be. I'll also likely call you, complain, then ask you to brainstorm how we can make a yearly 3 week vacation to South America possible so I can make it through the cold without insanity setting in.) Taking the good with the bad, maybe I'll be able to trade the warm winter weather of a southern city, for the cold snow of a northern one with a bit of grace. (Ok, ok- insert laugh here, I'm not sure "grace" has ever described me...) It's feeling like it's time to switch it up and at least try though. I look forward to seeing what happens and how my tolerance level develops for extreme weather. So many incredible places to live, so few years of 1 life.

Ok, I'm off to the train downtown to meet Al and explore the city. Maybe we'll go shopping for some boots and gloves...

Monday, July 26, 2010

highways, honking truckers, and hundreds of miles

Oh what a day! I love blasting down the road. I stopped in Cleveland for a bit- what a cool little city. More on that later. For now this photo from my last pit stop/rest stop. I just couldn't walk by it. I'm all about some rich food, and the "I shouldn't eat this but I'm going to anyway" stuff, mixed in with the healthy, but is this ad supposed to make me want to eat this? I hate to be all "EW!!! Gross!- But, UGH. GROSS.

Chicago rest stop heavin'

amen sisters!

I snapped this on my last day in Upstate NY. A perfectly fitting motto for this trip. As soon as I read this I laughed to myself and thought if my friends were alive, this is how they'd be living and exactly what they'd write.

Every little step on my journey tells me I'm going in the right direction. Thanks M and B. I know you're with me every step of the way.

Upstate wall sign

welcome to ohio!

I know they say you shouldn't use your cell phone and drive, but how else would I be able to snap photos like this?

Welcome to Ohio!

It sure is a great sunny summer day for driving today!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

bye bye east coast

Helloooooo Midwest!

Canada I will see you shortly!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

meet gary

Gary is my friends dad. He is one of the kindest, most genuine, insightful and accepting people I have ever known. He and his lovely and equally wonderful wife Jeanne, have been loving, accepting and welcoming me into their home for the past 13 years every summer as if I were their own child. My cottage time is so sacred and has always been the favorite few days of my summers.

After a dinner on the patio overlooking the gorgeous lake the other night, Gary asked me if I wanted to go fishing with him. He hadn't caught anything worth keeping all summer until that point and thought I might be able to bring him some luck, so off we went. He caught a tiny fish pretty quickly but nothing after that. We joked about a hex on the boat or something as there have always been trout a plenty in years past. Fish or not, it was worth going out as the company was great as always and I even got to drive the boat home. Here's a photo of Fisherman Gary. (By the way since our outing the other night He's broken the hex and reeled in a 6-pounder!):

Fishing Gary 7/10

I also snapped this photo of the shore room as we were speeding away in the boat the other night. This was an addition to the cottage a couple of years ago for Gary's 70th birthday. I get to sleep there when I visit now. One word to describe waking up in that room? Heaven.

Shore room at cottage 7/10

There are many reasons I love coming to the lake, but the biggest is the time I get with my friend Patrick and his incredible parents. Over the years I have learned so much from them even though they probably would never know they were teaching. I've learned about acceptance, love, joy and being grateful. I've been inspired to be more open and give more of myself. This family exudes light, life and love more than I could ever describe. Their overall positive energy is a force to be reckoned with and they have that magnetic way that just makes you want to be around them as much as possible. They are the purest beings and a few of my absolute favorite ones on the planet. Each summer as I pull up the long steep road away from them, I feel completely full and peaceful.

As my time at the lake comes to an end now, I already dream of boat rides, quiet dock time, dinners on the patio, listening to the lapping of the water, the lessons, and all the true conversation over the sunset shores with this family. Thank you Patrick, Jeanne and Gary for every moment of our time together and every ounce of love you continue to give me and everyone around you.

Friday, July 23, 2010

gulp...help? ideas?

So as days fly by and I fill my gas tank, the bank account gets smaller and smaller. This was to be expected. I will be beating feet from NY state to Chicago on Monday and be in that area until about 8/3. After 8/3 I am done visiting with friends and family and zooming for the tougher part of my trek.

My donations page is hearing nothing but crickets chirping since I've left VA and in my networking efforts so far, I have not had any offers to pick up work along my route to Alaska.

It's time to ask for help. (UGH. I freaking hate this part.)

Anyone have ideas? Need a babysitter/summer nanny, farmhand, stagehand, waitress, cleaning lady, circus freak? If so I'm your girl and I'm mobile. Please contact me. Not that I'd refuse a "real" job, but until I complete my Alaska goal I'm not looking for anything long-term. Of course during this summer resumes are going out, connections are being made and places are being scoped for my next home after September. Right now I'm focused on making it to my 50th state and I've got to figure out a way to make it happen. I'm a month away from selling my car on Craigslist, staying in a notel motel wherever I am at the time and working at the local IHOP. I'm not too proud to do that and will if it comes to that, but before I do have to do that I'm asking for ideas from you all to suggest some ways I can generate funds for the road.

For whatever reason, NYC is still pulling on my soul for my next home. We shall see. I am fortunate enough to have an offer from fantastic friends to stay in Brooklyn for free until I could find a place of my own and other friends who say they could hook me up with a job in a snap. (I know, awesome right?!) It wouldn't suck by any means to head to NYC now and start making my next life, but it would suck to fail at this goal of mine and not leave all options open for other cities I pass through in my travels as I wanted to. (I guess if I have to sell my car to make this all work in a month at least I'll be prepped to go to NYC where I would have to sell it anyway...)

I don't believe in begging for $ or being a free-loader. That's not what I'm trying to do here. I do believe in working my ass off for what I want. I'm looking for work and within reason will do just about anything to reach my goal. For those of you who have so generously donated previously because it's within your means- thank you so much, this has helped tremendously. Those of you who can't donate, I completely understand and that is more than totally fine as your words and notes of encouragement have meant everything to me. Perhaps you all would be so kind as to pass my name onto a friend or someone you know who might be looking for an extra hand with something so I can earn a few bucks?

If you know me in all my independence and stubbornness, you know I'd rather bleed out of my eyeballs than ask for help. I mean it makes me feel weird and uncomfortable when a boy want to pay for a date for pete's sake. All pride aside right now; Any ideas or help out there?

Shit happens and life is life so if this all goes from Blue Lollipop Road; The adventures of a girl who goes on the road to reach a goal and inspire others to travel and try new things, to Diane's Blue Lollipop Road was not planned perfectly and was pathetically underfunded, so she's slingin' pancakes at that local IHOP in Bismarck until she can figure something out- so be it. It might actually even make for a funny blog. I'm just sort of hoping I don't have to find out whether It'd be funny or not.


could you, would you anywhere?

(I have officially passed 600 posts. YIPPEE!!)

Last week thanks to a friend who took me, I was at the Hotel Ganzevoort sipping cosmos among the hot, trendy crowd with spectacular views of the city as I sported a sassy black dress and sky high heels.

Last night thanks to a different friend who took me, I was at the Grassroots Festival sipping a Heineken, among the hippie, free-lovin' crowd with spectacular views of people dancing in fields as I sported a flowy dress with flip flops.

(I had some fun hamming it up):


I'm bummed I didn't get any photos of RG and I at Hotel Gansevoort last week, but here's Patrick and I last night goofing off at the festival between bands, on our way to shake it to Arrested Development:

Di and Patrick at Grassroots Fest.

Thanks guys! Both were so fun, fun, fun. From pish-posh with bathroom attendants to dirt fields with porta potties.

I love life's potpourri.

kids, be nice and share

Now that I've finally come out of the stone ages and into 2010 with Facebook and Twitter, I've heard from many of you I never would have otherwise. It's been fun and interesting to hear about what you are all up to and what you think of the blog. Problem is, I have quickly formed a habit of communicating back and forth via FB. If you so kindly want to stay in touch, give opinions about my writing, photos, subjects or other, while I'm on the road for this trip- might you mind leaving comments here instead of FB? It'd be nice to share conversations, helpful travel info., etc. with others too. As usual, any and all comments are welcome, good, bad and ugly, along with cool places you might think I'd like to check out or any other randomness. It's a free for all, so babble away.

This journey is more and more fun as days pass and I'm thankful I've got awesome people virtually riding along!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

always biting off...

As I sit here on this peaceful morning sipping my coffee and munching on my multigrain toast, 9 days into my trip- I decide I better finally look at a map and driving directions to Alaska from where I am in Upstate New York. Two words come to mind as the lake laps, the sun shines, and the breeze blows perfectly...


No I have not looked at a map for more than 30 seconds since I "planned" this trip. Yes, I know that AK is clear across the country and up through Canada Yes, I know that before taking on this challenge, perhaps I should've actually understood how far I'd be going. I didn't. All I did was calculate that it was going to cost me at least $700 worth of gas to drive my route. It's too late to turn around now and I don't want to, but my am I going to have a lot more figuring out to do than I ever expected. (I have a tendency to jump then think. Blissful ignorance. No wonder why people get frustrated with me and stubborn has always been one of the top 3 words Mom uses when describing me.)

I now know that it's a simple 10 hours from where I am to Chicago. No problem. That'll be done in a day and a snap of a finger for me. From there though, it's 34 hours straight driving to get to Seattle before going on the final leg to AK. Seattle to AK? Gulp...two days straight driving. It takes a lot for me to feel daunted, but I have to admit the holy shit and oh craps are running through my head now. I suppose because reaching this goal of mine was in the category of travel, and I love travel, I've instinctually had the; Pshaw! Cakewalk! Easy for me!- attitude. Sitting here now, I'm hitting a bit of the "wall" (like the one when you're running a marathon, see mile 25 and think you're done because you're delirious, until it registers that indeed it is 26.2 miles to completion, not 25.2 and you want to scream- are you effin kidding me?! You want me to keep running?!) Push push push and get it done or drop.

Oh the wall.

After my engagement break-up a while back when I was a pile of train wreck disaster, a friend had said to me:

"This is when you either become that crazy old lady who lives alone on the side of a mountain in a log cabin to never come down, or you kick it into high gear, tear it up and own your life. It's your choice Diane."

I keep the above quote in mind, in those moments when I am exhausted, broke and wondering why the hell I am such a blissful idiot sometimes to do what I do. I'll be channeling the spirit of my lost friends I am honoring and figuring it out as I make my way to Alaska and beyond. Perhaps this trip is meant for me to learn than place where you jump with a parachute. I'm already feeling like a different person since I left my starting point. I can't explain it but it's pretty amazing, it's as if I'm getting to know myself and seeing my personal limits. Maybe I'm finally going to get to that place where I'll start using those things they call baby steps. If this trip has already transformed me as it has by only day 9, I know without a doubt that it was the right decision and time for me to take this journey.

Here's to tearing it up but starting to recognize balance too.

less is more

A friend sent me a link to this video about Jay Shafer and his tiny house Tumbleweed a week or so ago. I have read about and seen him before. I think his little abode is fantastic. I just moved out of a 430 sq. foot apartment that I often felt wasteful in as I only ever used about half the space if that. I could easily live in one of Jay's houses. It's so freeing to not own tons of stuff (mentally and financially.) I have always been a minimalist, but the older I get, the even less I want. Take this trip for example; I packed smart (or so I thought) and didn't stuff my car to the gills, but I still brought too much. Granted I have only been gone 8 days, but I have gone from suburbs with houses, the big city with studio apartments, to country with cabin. (Think the variety of clothes, bags, shoes, cameras, maps, etc. I'd use in those three different spots.) I've probably only used about 20% of what I brought. It seems as if we all look at what we actually used on a regular basis and kept only the quality stuff/favorites and only kept those things, we'd all have less clutter, more loot for other things and far less stress in our days.

Years ago when I was traveling with an old boyfriend, our car and all belongings were stolen and we were stranded in Vancouver. After the initial shock of pissed off and oh my god what are we going to do without our stuff, we realized no one just shot us to get our car and reality was; PHEW! I've said from then on that at one point in life or another, everyone should get all their stuff stolen. When you realize you're still standing there with all limbs attached and the people you love there with you- the stuff becomes so unimportant.

I suppose the point of this is after watching that video, I'm inspired to have even less than I already do and I'd like to encourage everyone to go through those drawers and closets and start getting rid! Pile up all the crap you don't need, have a yard sale or sell it on Craigslist. (If anyone needs detailed tricks and tips on this please let me know. I don't have many talents, but I am a pro at selling things these ways after doing it a million times myself.) You'll be blown away at the amount of money you can make and what you can get rid of. Take the money and pay an extra mortgage payment, a couple extra credit card payments, or grab a few people you love and treat them away for the weekend to spend time together. I promise you'll never miss that extra cutting board or 96th piece of Tupperware. (Who ever really has that many leftovers anyway?)

Thanks for the clip BW!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

you know you're...

...wholly enjoying your days, relaxing, and loving time with good company when you haven't charged your cell phone in 3 days and you sill have plenty of battery power.

It's amazing how good it feel to put that thing away sometimes.

each summer i love you more

View from after dinner on the porch last night:

7/20/10 sunset at the cottage

...and from my bed waking up this morning:

7/21/10 morning at the cottage

If you've never been to Upstate, NY/Finger Lakes area, think about this place for your next family summer vaca. 13 years of coming every summer and it continues to be my favorite place on the planet. I cherish my every minute here each summer and often wonder why this area is not completely overloaded with people. It's like the best kept secret in the country for lake time...

oh how to thank you

There will be many more like this, but to add a few from my first week on the road:

Gabi and Phil
Traci M.
Sam and Bryan
Melissa P.
Sarah the amazing intern

THANK YOU for the beds, couches, the treats, the time, the catching up and so much more. Your time and generosity truly mean everything to me. In fact, I had such a great time in and around NYC that I can't stop thinking of moving there. You guys are GOOD! I'll be back very very soon...

spread the word!

Considering I am trying to solicit sponsorships and donations for my own project here and to be able to make it to Alaska this summer, I must be crazy to post something here in support of another organization trying to solicit too. Well, call me crazy.

I have enough loot to live for the next few weeks and that's it. After that? Part of my adventure is figuring it out and having faith. I fully understand the fact that I could be working at a Mickey D's in South Dakota in 2 weeks and not make it to Alaska until much later than hoped, so we shall see. I will make it no matter what so I refuse to worry. I'll make it work somehow, as I know I'd be a killer burger flipper. One exciting part of my journey to my 50th state, was that I'm going to be able to stop in Vancouver to meet Sean Aiken of the One Week Job. I've written about him before. I just got an email from these guys and apparently he and his partner in crime Ian are scrambling to get a last chunk of $ to complete their documentary film they've worked so hard on.

Now, CNN and others alike are most certainly not calling me for interviews yet, as they have these guys, but in an effort to keep paying it forward and because I wholeheartedly believe in what they're doing, I wanted to post a link here where you can donate if you'd like. (It'd be a total bummer if they've gotten this far and weren't able to cross the finish line.) I have to believe that there are people out there reading this that have or know someone who has extra $ and would like to put it to good use somehow. My vote if you want to give/donate- give/donate to people like Sean, Ian, me or other Generation Y-er's like us. We're young energetic, driven people who are swimming up stream in a sea of fish going the other way because we want to follow our passions, and use our skills to live the life we imagine. By doing this we're confident we'll influence other young people to do the same, and perhaps in turn, happier, healthier humans will be roaming the earth and be empowered to make it a better place. If you can't donate cash or don't want to, that's Ok. Just please pass this on to others and make sure you spend your day tomorrow doing something you love. That's all we really want to see. (Sean and Ian, I'm speaking for you here, but trusting you're cool with that and we are on the same wavelength anyway.)

Good luck with your last few bucks guys. Hope this helps! All I ask for is a coffee when I make it to Vancouver:)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

meet juan, juanita and pablito

Juan, Juanita and Pablito

They are my travel buddies. I'm not big on tchotckies, but these guys had to come on the trip with me. My sister brought Juan and Juanita back from Ecuador this winter. She and I have lots of inside jokes. We often geek out about silly little things, so when she said she saw tiny Juan and Juanita (I named them) and immediately knew she had to bring them back for me- it made total sense to me.

A friend handed me Pablito the monkey at my going away happy hour telling me Pablito would keep me safe. Apparently this monkey has been to Germany, Japan and all over the place. Well traveled mini sock.

These pals of mine will be in plenty of photos from this trip so keep watching for them!

not brilliant, not clueless, but juuust right

I know all of you out there who thought I was nuts not to use social media outlets are exclaiming I told you so! You're right. There were a lot of reasons I was anti-Facebook, Twitter, etc. before (don't get me wrong, I still think they are slightly annoying, invasive and take more effort than i'd like to maintain) but they are pretty incredible tools, and I'm loving them right now. I've connected with hundreds of people in the past few weeks. I've gotten encouraging messages from old soccer teammates who I haven't seen in 16 years, who instantly "get" why I'm doing this trip, I've heard from elementary school friends' moms, and found other people I've met in my travels who have profiles and they're in their 70's. It's great.

I've been teased many times in the past and am sure will be in the future about being so behind the times. I figure if I am like the bazillionth person to buy or use all the new shiny, fancy tools and items, by the time I start, either everyone I know will be such pros they will be able to teach me about them in 2 minutes, or instead of spending top dollar the second these items come out, by the time I get around to purchasing one they'll only be 2 bucks.

I can't lie, it's actually fun to live a bit behind and old fashioned. I'm strategically making a life out of taking advantage of modern technology to advance, but using old-school practices on a daily basis too. I feel this way, I'll be able to continue to connect with all varieties of people. I'll reach the goals I have, advance in the areas I want to, while appreciating the little things and not ever forget where I came from. I'll take the "Duh Diane! That has been around for years! Where have you been?!" any day, because I can always tease right back with a "Yeah, well I bet you don't know the land area or capital of Alabama punk! I do because I still use paper maps!" (Laughing. These conversations really happen.)

Adding Facebook and others to my life, I'll use them along with still sending snail mail, I'll keep eating food from country bumpkin diners right along with eats in 5 star restaurants, and I'll always be able to do a keg stand, but love sipping a cosmo too.

The Birkenstocks will sit indefinitely right next to the Kenneth Cole's.

Monday, July 19, 2010

roadside america

Only on a Northeast late summer afternoon can you get your soft serve cone covered with something called Krunch Kote...

Krunch Kote in the Northeast

...slurp it up as you drive by one of the hundreds of family farms in all the green...

Roadside NY farms

...and then stop by the local Moose Lodge for a taco when you get hungry again...

Taco night at the Moose Lodge

The simple life, the good life. Gotta love it.

from big city to the green of the poconos

Pennsylvania welcomes me!

Pennsylvania welcomes me!

As I zip through PA on way the the Finger Lakes on a great sunny day, my concerned ripped/fit/hottie pal Sean has sent me a message via Facebook concerned that I'm keeping "balance" as I travel. Perhaps it's because I write about stuffing my face all the time and drinking liquid chocolate Sean? Rest assured my cutie friend; Before Max Brenner yesterday there was breakfast, later a snack of a granny smith apple from Whole Foods and this morning before I left the city I went on a sprint run along the Hudson River. I've tried so hard before to be one of those girls that doesn't like to eat, but we all know that's going to happen. I say run, run, run, soccer, roadside yoga, fruits, veggies and a chocolate a day. That's what keeps the doctor away!

Thanks Sean. I'll wave to Canandaigua for you as I pass through!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

love handles in place of mug handles

This is the Max Brenner hug mug full of liquid chocolate:

Max Brenner hug mug

This is me loving life drinking it:

Me sipping Max Brenner hot chocolate

Now if I had a picture of me in a chocolate coma on the couch I'd send that...

Dear Max~

You were so worth the wait. I'm coming back for more soon!

don't tempt me

I've been in NY since Wednesday. After about 30 minutes in town, I started thinking I'd absolutely love to live here. This has blindsided me. I was never that girl that wanted to move to the big city. Like most things, I've never been opposed to trying whatever or moving wherever, but there has never been that burning desire.

Now I am feeling the burn.

The last thing I would have ever expected on my journey to 50th state Alaska; The Last Frontier of all places, is that I'd roll into NY for some quick fun, food, touring and seeing friends, that I'd get smacked in the face with a screaming "Welcome home Diane!"- from the universe. What does this mean? I'm not sure but I do know that I LOVE:
1.) A place that you could ride a donkey down the street and no one would give a damn. 2.) Food glorious food. 3.) The energy here that's impossible to find anywhere else. 4.) A fashion that is unmatched. 5.) It's like free 24/7 dinner and a movie just by walking down the street. 6.) Never a dull moment. 7.) The survival of the fittest; Keep your ass moving and gettin' smarter, faster, better, or you will be run over. Peace out lazy-asses! 8.) The general lack of complacency. 9.) The fact that I can walk. EVERYwhere here. 10.) The never ending supply of friends and family who'd visit because everyone comes to NY. And so much more.

Of course there are 1,001 reasons it'd be crazy to try to make it in this city. If I were scared of/opposed to; Rats like the one who ran down the stairs as we waited for the train the other day, the fairly regular smell of pee in various places, the completely insane people that roam the streets, the roach infested apartment I could afford with 64 roommates, and traffic, traffic, traffic- nah- I'd be fine. I'm twisted enough to actually find those things charming. The single thing that appeals to me even with the 1,001 reasons to NOT to try to live in NY is the fact that not a single person could give a flip about you. (In a good way.) People generally don't care about what you're doing. It's Ok if you talk to yourself while walking down the street. You can sing out loud and pick your nose in public and no one turns a head. Just twirl around in the middle of the sidewalk- everyone will walk around you and keep on their way. Sport your purple hair with teal fringed jorts and leopard print loafers or some other form of a schizophrenic outfit and blend right in. You just do what you do and no one bothers you or judges you. It's a giant free for all and I find that more comforting than anything.

I leave in the morning to head upstate to the green. I'll likely think and discuss the same when I'm there and 50 other places; wouldn't it be great to live here. For now though, I sit alone in Union Square overlooking the park and Empire State Building, about to go nosh on some serious Max Brenner chocolate with a friend I haven't seen in 12 years, feeling happy as a clam and daydream of this being home.

Stay tuned for food posts coming. Off the charts yummy these past 4 days. There's that bonus of a walking city again; I can stuff my face for several days in a row and still feel like I'm in the best shape of my life.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

"i think i found your old homework diane"

That's what the email was titled from a friend who sent this to me yesterday:

"When I was in grade school, they told me to write down what I wanted to be when I grew up.
I wrote down happy.
They told me I didn't understand the assignment.
I told them they didn't understand life."

- Unknown

Love it. Thanks G!

Friday, July 16, 2010

meet gabriela

This is my day 3 in NYC and only at lunchtime. I am whooped. It's whooped in a good way, but my lord you can do some walking, touring and seeing just about everything in this place. I have lots of stories I'm looking forward to sharing, but I must first go back to my night in NJ with Gabriela and Phil on Tuesday...

Gabriela started reading my blog about a year and a half ago. She wrote a comment to a post that I had written about how ignorance is bliss and I responded. She replied back to me and we have been email buddies ever since. We have exchanged stories, photos and pretty much been pen pals, like we all did in elementary school. Just notes, but never meeting face-to-face until this week. When Gabriela learned that I was going to be driving north for my first leg to Alaska, she wrote and told me it'd be "an honor" to host me. It was actually an honor for me to meet her, a stranger who I've bonded with and who's been a loyal reader for so long. She's never put off by the utter nonsense and babble I often write, but has promoted and encouraged it.

Upon my arrival to her home, I got an excited welcome like you get when you go home for Christmas. She and her husband jumped up from their chairs on the patio to greet me and immediately offered me drinks and anything else I might want. We chatted as if we'd been old friends for years and they toured me around their gorgeous property. There was so much green and everything was so lush, it was hard to imagine I was only 30 miles outside of NYC. They had vegetable gardens and blueberry bushes, pretty flowers, a fire pit and slate patio, and even a white fence. I learned that the house was put up in 1926 after it'd been ordered out of the Sears catalog. It's The Del Ray model. These houses would arrive in 30,000 pieces. Price; Just over $2,000. The garage is The Avenue model and came at a price of $173. (How neat is that?) Every little piece of the home and property was just lovely. Here are a couple photos:

Gabi and Phil house

Gabi and Phil house, NJ

Gabriela is from Brazil- her family all still there. She came to the states for work about 3 years ago where she met Phil. They've now been married a year. They host and attend lots of bbq's with neighbors during the summer, so were excited about grilling up some veggies and meat and stuffing me too. (I was excited to be stuffed!) Gabriela made a Brazilian "sauce" that is essentially the garnish and big pop of flavor you pour over your dish. The sauce that night was yellow and green peppers, tomato, onion, red wine vinegar, olive oil and salt. It was incredible. Here's my first helping of dinner:

Dinner with Gabi and Phil

(It's officially impossible to be a vegetarian on the road or eat light with these types of meals, but really who would want to? I I've been an absolute carnivore in the past few days and I have to say I am loving it. I might switch back to vegetarian status in due time.)

We all grilled together, visited and scarfed. Grilled corn, asparagus, and squash fresh right out of the garden 15 feet away. After dinner Phil made us fresh espresso and surprised us with ice cream. This night was a feast like you read about. Full and long conversation with so called strangers who ended up being not so much strangers at all, but more like those friends you've had for years. They told me stories about a pesky raccoon who they'd been trying to catch for days and the strategies including all kinds of food bait and waiting up all night trying to nab him. The stories were hilarious. I'm convinced the raccoon was playing with them, barely defying them every night flipping them the bird as he ran away with all the treats they had put out to bait him. (Phil spent hours outside that night with another friend trying to catch the bugger with still no success. That varmint must be one smart cookie.)

Exhausted from a long drive, lots of good chatter and a feast, Gabi and I snapped a quick photo before we all retired to our rooms for bed:

Di and Gabi

She was off to work in the morning so Phil generously accommodated me with breakfast, coffee and even lead me to the interstate to make sure I found my way ok. Before leaving the house, he wanted to make sure I got a photo of the back of the shed that he had painted. I happily snapped this:

Gabi and Phil shed

I'm very thankful to have met people like this. They were 1,000% generous to me for no gain other than to be just that and share good company. My favorite thing to do in this life is to feast, visit, and spend time with people that I care about who are interesting and fun. This was no doubt one of those times.

Thank you to Gabi and Phil for welcoming me with open arms as if I were a part of your family. I look forward to staying in touch for many years to come and hosting you sometime in your travels down the road. Cheers to new friends!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

you beat me

As an answer to my slurping down the mega de-lish mocha java shake at Port City Java the other day in no time, one of my readers Bibb sent me this photo:

Bibbs after mocha java goodness

My shake was gone within 5 minutes. Bibb said his was gone in about 35 seconds. Now that's some devotion. I am impressed with this photo too. With one glance you can almost feel the chill and taste all the melty goodness of this perfect summer treat.

Thanks for sending Bibb!

food, glorious food

From my wonderful stay in Mendham, NJ on Tuesday I headed into the one and only New York, New York.

I've been to NYC at least 15 times before but yesterday was easily one of the best days I have ever spent here. Maybe it was good company, amazing food, the general energy of the city, the fashion, the people- I think a combination of it all. I absolutely love love love the big city. I've already been thinking about how I can either get about 5 roommates or rob a bank so I could afford to live here for a while.

I arrived at my friends place, surprisingly easy and with little traffic to maneuver, put my car in a lot so I wouldn't have to worry about it for few days and we headed off to lunch. He took me to this amazing little Cuban joint Cafe' Habana on Prince St. The place was packed as I learned it always stays. There were good looking people all around to watch which made our wait time pass very quickly. When the waitress called us in to our table I knew that this was going to be one of those places that every last thing on the menu would be delicious. Turns out it was.

Cafe' Habana, NYC

I had to order the straight Cuban sandwich just because. My friend ordered a quesadilla with chorizo, avocado, mozzarella and a bunch of other goodness and this appetizer for us:

Cafe' Habana, NYC

Holy moses.

This is grilled corn slathered with butter, cheese, lime and chili powder. I said wow several times as we both scarfed the corn down and we laughed that wow really summed up the taste perfectly. Add a cold beer, my Cuban sandwich, fantastic friendly service from the staff and oh what an excellent first meal in the city as my welcome wagon.

We left Cafe' Habana stuffed and happy and toured around Soho. We wandered the streets for a while until it started pouring. We sprinted drenched into the Soho Grand to get out of the rain and have an afternoon cocktail. What a gorgeous spot. It's so fun to have a glass of wine on a weekday afternoon.

Back to the apartment we headed for some chill time, but I got a burst of energy and decided to go for a run. For some reason I sprinted like there was no tomorrow. It's oddly fun to have to jump around and play frogger to maneuver the streets of NY. In a short 30 minutes out I almost got hit by a few cars, I saw old men playing dominos in the park, I watched a guy pick a nearly empty Snapple bottle off the ground, examine it carefully then drink the last sip, and spotted more jorts than I ever dreamed would be fashionable again. Bored falls out of the dictionary in this town.

After a shower and change we headed off to The Spotted Pig for dinner. We waited again as to be expected for a well-known delicious food spot. I have to say I'd prefer waiting to sitting right down any night for dinner. To me it's like dinner and a movie all in one. Have a drink, talk to some strangers, watch what's coming out of the kitchen the most to help your decision on what to order and avoid that fast food eat and get the hell out feel that happens all too often when you go out. My dinner was off the charts ridiculous. (It was a suggestion by the waitress. I'm a big fan of asking server opinion and always choosing what they suggest. Especially if the suggestion is not the most expensive thing on the menu, then you know you can trust them.) It was one of the best meals I've ever had. I honestly cannot remember when I ate something that perfectly flavored and prepared.

I went to bed so stuffed and happy last night it's as if I were in heaven falling asleep. With hundreds of more off charts ridiculous spots to eat in this city, I'm wondering how I could make it possible to stuff my face for a living.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"do you have a french press?"

..."if not I am going to give you one of those, along with a bunch of coffee because no friend of mine is going across country on bad coffee!"

Spoken like a true coffee lover from one to another.

My friend Tom roasts coffee for Blanchard's Coffee Co. in Richmond, VA. The above is what Tom responded in an email to me after announcing my trip. In enters Blanchard's as my coffee sponsor.

I got the chance to stop by for a chat and pick up with Tom on Monday. I had been in the roasting house before and the smell is so delicious you want to lick the air. As always Tom was in good spirits, peppy about life and loving his job. He had just finished roasting with the crew for the day so I snapped this photo of the roaster:


...and of course some boxes full of all the hard roasting work:


...and finally my gifted stock to start off my trip (Tom is going to ship me more as I drive.) A French Press too. Ahh...


What a great treat. Bad coffee is a serious no-no for sure. I was happy to pay some of my stock forward to my hosts Gabriela and Phil who I stayed with last night. More fellow coffee lovers. It's so fun to be able to do that thanks to Blanchard's.

Thanks guys. No sleepy driving for me!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


That's how many miles were on my always reliable Honda as I left Richmond, VA this morning. We shall see what the odometer reads by the time I get to the Land of the Midnight Sun. (Honda should totally put me in a commercial considering this is about the 5th time I'll be going across the country in one of their cars that has over 100k miles on it. Honda? Hello?...)

I'm about to fall asleep at the home of my new friends; Blog Followers Gabriela and Phil. I'm all safe with a stuffed belly in their lovely little NJ abode. Arrival couldn't have gone better. Tonight was a feast fit for a king with a Brazilian twist, great company, perfect weather, and a pesky raccoon.

I'm road tired and heading into the Big Apple tomorrow, so need to rest up. More story on new friends and that pesky raccoon along with some photos to come!

here goes nothing. by that i mean everything...

Last minute packing and officially leaving the south on my trek. I am so excited and cannot wait for the stories I'll pile up to share.

I have to get my behind out to door and up I-95 towards Jersey and the Big Apple, so I am off for now. Just wanted to say THANK YOU to all my friends, family, readers, and amazing intern for helping me prep for this trip.

I have never been happier in my life and have you all to thank for that.

Tonight I meet Gabriela, my email/pen/reader pal and her husband for dinner. How fun. Stay tuned for more!

Here's to adventure, doing the things you love, and spending precious time with the people you love.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

i'll take both please

Sign at house in OBX

It's possible, so why not?

On that note, I am finishing up my work day this morning and off to Sunday Funday with the ladies at the pool. I love you cocktail, gossip and sunshine summer afternoons. Add a little World Cup and put a fork in me.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


When I look at my friend pool and people I like spending time with, it never fits anywhere close to one category. I have the most schizophrenic looking contact list. It's great. I have friends that are 20 year old college students and 40 year old firefighters, executives who live in big cities, and bumbpkins that live in the country. I'm even pals with my previous auto insurance agent who I'd only actually met once face to face. I guess after calling and emailing him about 560 times within a 10 month time frame last year helped us to get to know each other. Turns out those commercials are true. They really do care and will be there when you need them.

This agent and I have broken up. That is, in the way of auto insurance. I've moved away and switched agencies, but we still stay in touch. We went to lunch the other day while I was in town. During our chat over yummy Thai food, captain safety/big brother kicked in. (I can't say I'm surprised as he is married with a couple of kids and that seems to always make guys even more hyper-protective.) Like several other of my male friends he inquired about my road survival kit and supplies. I told him that I was not carrying a gun at this point (even though that has come highly recommended by several people in the past week or so.) I gave him the full run down of what I do have with me; "I have a knife and Swiss army knife, spare tire, maps, AAA card, compass, flashlight, can, bottle and wine openers (these are among the most important of course along with a nail file) cooler, lighters, matches, blanket, cell charger, water bottle, pens, paper and..."

"Don't forget the condoms" he interrupts.


Me; "What?! Ok, so that wasn't top of my list but thanks Dad. Safety first!"

More laughter.

Well Crager, seems you're in the perfect line of business.

Thanks for lunch and cracking me up.

age smage

For the past few years I have a terrible habit of calling myself an old lady even though I'm only 31. (Considering I feel like I am about 8 this confuses me too.) I've often called my younger friends "kids" when talking about them and I've made comments about "people your age" as opposed to "people our age." I've had several of them point this out to me and tell me it's a bit offensive. They are right. I get annoyed when someone calls me a kid or tells me to grow up and be an adult.

What does being a adult mean anyway?

My opinion is whether we're talking about dating, being a good friend, co-worker, mom, mentor or other, it ultimately doesn't mean poo how old you are. You're adult if you're responsible, independent and take care of yourself, if you can old your own in any crowd, and if you're respectful, reliable and aware.

Of all people, I am sure I'd seem like someone that would never take age into consideration for any reason. Well, I'm guilty as charged for being an age judger at times. I don't know what I've been thinking. Recently I've met some people that have made me aware of how I was judging. They've helped me change my thoughts on this subject. Saying this. I will extend an apology to anyone I have ever offended in conversation. I have to say I love it when I am proven wrong. The result is always positive growth even if I'm stubborn about it. It's nice to be blindsided with lessons from people you'd never imagine them coming from too.

Thanks Ben- I mean T.

Friday, July 9, 2010

the love of friend family

Every day I feel fortunate to have such amazing friends. I moved out of my parents house when I was 17. When I was 19 I packed my car with everything I owned, left VT and stopped off a random exit on I95. I ended up in Richmond, VA. With no research and not knowing a soul, I simply stopped in Richmond because it was the capital. Why not right? It would take years to share stories here about who I met from that day on. I can sum it up by saying that the people I "happened" to meet, live , and spend time with, have been my family ever since my car took that exit. I don't believe in luck as most people use the term, but I do believe that everything happens for a reason. I know I was meant to stop at the exit I did, meet the people I have, and find family in them. I'm not sure what else I'd call the people who wholeheartedly and unselfishly took me in, protected me, and loved me from the instant they met me.

My extraordinary "friend" family has been incredibly supportive all these years. They've schlepped my stuff when I've moved, called to check on me when I've needed it, fed me, housed me, and dried tears when I have cried. We've shared a thousand laughs together, gone to hundreds of events, taken trips to the beach and danced drunk on tables. We have experienced life and death together, engagements, marriages, breakups and all in between. I have become Auntie Di to their kids. The time and experiences are irreplaceable. No matter where I go, where they go, or what time passes, these people remain my #1 fans and I am theirs. I often feel like I need to pinch myself as if all the love that's given to me is some kind of dream.

One of these family members took me to lunch before this trip started and shoved this bill at me to add to my leftover half-sandwich:

Good friends

This is after of course, great conversation, words of encouragement, wisdom and a lot of laughter.

I left this person that day shaking my head to myself thinking for the millionth time how I constantly have the fortune of stealing time with such good people. I can't ever seem to come up with an answer. All I can do is thank these people, tell them I love them and hope that is enough.

Thank you S. Thank you to all in my friend family. You are the reason why I push myself to love more, be better, and pay it forward every day.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

mocha java shake; revisited

Once again I'm slurping down the best shake I've ever had; The Mocha Java from Port City Java in Wilmington, NC.

I wrote about his indulgent shake a bit over a year ago when I lived in Wilmington. 16 months later when deciding on where to camp out and work a bit, there wasn't even a question, so here I sit. I'm thinking there might be crack in these things. Heavenly, mouth-watering, scrumptious or lip-smacking can't even come close to describing how these things taste.

I'm glad I snapped this photo quick because as I type this now 5 minutes later, my cup is empty. Ahhh...

If you are every anywhere near a PCJ, do yourself a favor and drop in for one. With the combination of this treat and the always friendly staff here, it's comforting to know that some things never change.

Mocha Java shake- Port City Java. YUM!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

things you find in hotel parking lots

My friend Lara entertained taking a picture of me after I practically jumped out of her moving car squealing; "OOH! It's the Aha Moment Camper again! I have got to stop this time!" (I had spotted it a few days before in Richmond, VA but wasn't able to stop then.)

I finally have uploaded the photo, so here it is. Thanks Lara! (Or should I say thanks JW? Hee hee...)

Aha Moment camper

racy country activities

I took this one in Pollocksville, NC.

Wondering if there are strippers that come out between games.

Racy country bingo

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Thanks to Matt C., the Civic (AKA Juanita) is now screaming BLR. I did the happy dance when Matt put this on my car this morning. I feel like I'm finally opening the doors to the store I just built or something. So exciting.

Thanks for supporting and contributing to the journey Matt!


Monday, July 5, 2010

what a treat

I love the Mom and Pop coffee shops of the world, but as I have written a bunch before- I love a Starbucks too. The army of Starbucks stores have housed me for hours at a time, always provided me with clean bathrooms, gifted me free refills and 99% of the time consistent drinks and smiles. In addition to the above, I've met and networked with hordes of interesting and funny people I would've otherwise never met. (Lets face it- everyone goes to a Starbucks at some point.) I've spent hours in their cozy overstuffed chairs and never once gotten eyed to get the hell out already because I have overstayed my welcome. For someone that spends a lot of time on the road. This is a huge deal.

Now add a couple other bonuses:

1.) As of Thursday 7/1/10- Starbucks offers free unlimited WIFI at all it's stores. For anyone. No registration or extra finagling required, just log on and work away.

2.) During the next few months of summer when you grab your coffee in the morning, Starbucks gives you a "Treat Receipt" that lets you come back after 2pm and get any grande (medium) sized cold drink for $2. I don't know about you, but I rarely let myself buy the regular chocolate-mocha-frappa-yumma-sugar rush iced whatever on a hot day. Well, for $2 and any amount of extra shots, sugar and kitchen sink they can throw in that affordable price and I'm all about it.

***Don't forget also that any day, year-round when you go in for a drink and bring your own cup (hot or cold and it doesn't have to be Starbucks branded) you get 10 cents off your drink. They'll usually give you free refills too, but worst case scenario they charge you 50 cents. Save dough, save the planet, get your java buzz. I like it.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

here's a little ditty

Meet Jack

Jack Burrows- road people

I plopped down in a chair next to him after grabbing a coffee today. I had planned on taking a quick 5 minutes to get online and double check my mapped route to destination next. It's so fun when plans change because you run into someone interesting.

As soon as I sat down, Jack said "I saw you eying that chair next to me as soon as you walked in here!" I just laughed and shook my head. Jack asked me where I was from and I told him that I was traveling. He then broke into this story about how he used to drive small country towns taking photos of old filling stations. He had wanted to make a book out of his photos. He suggested that we go on the road together and take pictures. We could write a book together he told me. We both laughed. I told him that I might just be writing a book myself. He asked- "What? How?" I told him I wrote a blog, he didn't know what that meant so I pulled up this site to show him. As I scrolled the pages for him he mumbled a bunch of "Well I'll be damned. Isn't that something."

Turns out Jack owns an Inn in Manteo, NC and a bunch of other property around the mid-Atlantic. That's what fills his time besides people watching in coffee shops. This relaxed summer Santa look-alike had plenty of stories for me which I could've listened to for hours, but I had to get on the road so we said our goodbyes after an hour.

Happy summer and people watching Jack. Thanks for being my first road person for this trip.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

team jacob

If you had asked me what this meant before Thursday this week, I would've thought you were talking about a company softball game fundraiser or something. I try to do my best to live everywhere BUT under a rock, but this one got me.

When my 14 year old cousin squealed and asked if I wanted a ticket to go see The Twilight Saga: Eclipse movie I said sure. I had no idea what I was getting in to. She excitedly gave me the 4-11 Twilight story not leaving out a detail so I could "understand" what was going on when we watched the movie. As she ended her lesson with me I sort of laughed and shook my head thinking about the boys I was in love with when I was her age. My walls were plastered with pix of Corey Haim and Balthazar Getty straight out of my Teen Beat Magazine. I knew the drill.

Then we got to the theatre.

As we were munching our gargantuan souvenir Twilight bucket o' buttery popcorn, I thought it was a bit odd that 90% of the women rolling in were my age. As the movie started and I was trying to follow all the drama, twists and turns, people started talking to the movie screen. I sat there thinking- shhhhh!!! I am trying to watch! Oh but then it was officially ON. In the scene that Jacob comes in (that's the shirtless, ripped dude in case you've been living under a rock in Tweenville with me) the place erupts with screeches, squeals, "Oh my god he is SOOO hot!, I love you Jacob!" and even a "Will you marry me?!"

I laughed so hard. I just couldn't keep it in. It was the funniest thing I have ever experienced during a movie. Grown woman yelling at the screen as if Jacob would be able to hear them if they yelled loud enough. Every single time he appeared on screen there was more squealing and I love you's. It was absolutely hilarious.

As we left and my cousin said; "UGH- Di! Isn't Jacob SOOOOOO hot?! I mean, you have GOT to be on Team Jacob- right?" I told her sure, I'd join her team of course. After all he is a buff little cutie. I also told her I felt like a creepy old lady for even saying that. I Then proceeded to tell her that the guy I was crushing on myself the whole movie was the geeky dad. Her response of "EW! Gross." sealed the deal that I am officially old and probably not nearly as cool as she used to think I was.

I highly recommend an afternoon at the theatre for this one if you haven't been already. It's entertainment all around and you'll leave scratching your head like me wondering how you missed the boat on making billions by telling the dramatic stories of teen love and angst, mixed with vampires and werewolves.

surf free for all in the shallow end

Both of these signs were in the pool area of the house I'm staying at here in the Outer Banks.

Signs at OBX house

Signs at OBX house

I guess if little Johnny was hangin' 10 in the pool Mom would have a hard time telling him to stop.

Friday, July 2, 2010

snail mail shakedown

Want me to send you a postcard from someplace cool? Want to send me a postcard from where you live or a place you think I should check out? Lets do it!

If you'd like a postcard from me:
Email diane (@) bluelollipoproad.com, post a comment here, or send me a note in the "comments" box on my About page above.

If you'd like to send me a postcard, the Blue Lollipop Road Headquarters mail drop during my travels is:
Blue Lollipop Road
7173 Brooking Way
Mechanicsville, VA 23111
(Headquarters sounded fun and big time- had to write that. I have someone managing my mail while I am gone so I won't miss a thing.)

Here's to a snail mail revolution!

round and round and round she goes

For those of you who have asked, curious about my travel itinerary/plans (of course subject to change at any given second if I catch wind of some must explore place or thing that's not on my list already.) Here is the loose version as I sit today at the beach on day 2 of my adventure.

Richmond, VA to:

*Outer Banks, NC
*Wilmington, NC (I know- this isn't exactly the most direct route to Alaska from Virginia ,but I've never been the most direct route kind of girl. I'm working in Wilmington for a week and getting my car all tuned/prepped for the long haul as well as seeing some friends. Of course I also thought It'd be fun to say I drove my car to put my toes in both U.S. coats and jumped in this summer.)
*Back through Richmond, VA for a night
* NYC (I'll be seeing someone very special to me and beyond significant to this trip and BLR. It's been 16 years since we last saw each other. This reunion is something so important to me I can't describe it, but am looking forward to doing my best to share stories after our meeting.)
*Upstate NY/Finger Lakes
*Chicago and 'burbs of Chicago
*Madison, WI

The great thing about having an open schedule and living in a free country is that I can change my mind, take advantage of any opportunity that comes my way and make plans as I go. My goal to get to Alaska for the anniversary on 8/18 might not happen as it's already 7/2 and I have a lot of places to stop, people to see and living on the road to do that is vital to this trip. I have accepted that and it's OK with me. Safety and keeping in mind the point of all this is most important to me anyway. At "worst" I will have my time in Alaska and be ready to gift the 10% pay it forward from all donations and sponsorships by 9/30/10 if not before. I already have some dough in the account and waiting on stories from you all to roll in!

I am excited that I will be meeting one of my readers who I have become email pals with for about a year and a half after she stumbled upon BLR. She and her husband offered to host me immediately upon announcement of my trip. I'll see them on my way to NYC soon. How cool is that? It will be like meeting a long lost friend again. The connections we can make with each other through technology amaze me. Looking forward to meeting you in person G and seeing the rest of you along the way!

P.S~ You can track my route (red line) on the map above n the Alaska page!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

get your kicks

I am happy to share the news that Fruit 66 is sponsoring me for the Alaska or Bust road trip. They have stocked me up with more cans of their D-lish drink than I could imagine to keep my thirst quenched. I'm a fan of this sparkling juice because it's all-natural and there's the equivalent to one full serving of fruit in every can. You know I eat and drink my fair share of treats and chocolate, so this is a good alternative for me to grab instead of a soda on the road.

Fruit 66 gives a portion of their proceeds to the School Nutrition Foundation. Their product is in a slew of schools and replaces those bad for you sugary/high-fructose corn syrup drinks for kids. I love that. Any program or product that promotes health and activity (especially for kids)- I am all about endorsing.

Here's a funny addition to my Fruit 66 story:

I leave Richmond, VA (home base of the drink) for the first leg of my trip to meet up with my Uncle's extended family on their beach week. As I brought a few cans into the house, his 9 year old niece Gillian sees me and screeches "I love that stuff! We have it at my school!" (She lives in GA.) This sassy little cutie whom I had never met before was all about smiling for the camera as she guzzled down her can. What a perfect poster child for this stuff.

Thank you Fruit 66! I am already making friends and keeping the kids happy with your yummy drink.

Gillian with Fruit 66

doesn't take long...

...to stumble upon funny things to write about. At my first stop rolling out of town to start my journey, this is what I saw when I came out of the bathroom. Oh Border Station, you always offer such good entertainment and Dairy Queen Blizzards for dinner.

Don't forget to support your local hooker everybody.

Doesn't take long